Council approves rate hike for transit system

Dave Stewart
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Roy Main, chief administrative officer for the City of Charlottetown reads a motion as Mayor Clifford listens during Monday nights regular meeting of council.

 

It's going to cost a little bit more money to ride the bus in the greater Charlottetown area beginning Jan. 30.

Council unanimously approved a 25 cent rate hike at its regular public monthly meeting Monday night.

As of Jan. 30, it will cost $2.25 to ride the bus in Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall for per adult, senior and student. The monthly pass jumps to $65 for an adult and $45 for students and seniors. Children under 6 years old will still ride free.

The vote was 8-0 at council's meeting. Absent were Couns. Terry Bernard and Rob Lantz.

Increasing the fares was one of the big recommendations in the Dillon Report, a consulting firm from Ontario with more than 30 years experience in the transit industry. Monday night's meeting was the first time council has actually talked about specifics in that report.

"It's a modest increase,'' said Coun. Mitchell Tweel, chair of the committee responsible for transit. "The modest increase helps with maintenance and fuel . . . I mean, anytime you are providing a service it costs money so I think it's a reasonable increase, nothing exorbitant.''

Richard Puccini, one of the consultants who produced the report, was asked to look at the system after Mike Cassidy, who owns the bus service, revealed last year that it cost him $1.8 million a year to run it. He also reported losing $126,000 on the system in 2009.

Among the issues Puccini looked at was how to make the service more financially viable and increase ridership.

At present, approximately 300,000 people use the transit system in the capital region each year.

Tweel didn't have the exact numbers Monday night but he said it's safe to assume the 25-cent increase will net in the area of an extra $50,000 to $75,000 per year.

"The modest increase helps with maintenance and fuel . . . I mean, anytime you are providing a service it costs money so I think it's a reasonable increase, nothing exorbitant.'' Coun. Mitchell Tweel, chair of transit committee

The subsidy the municipality provides to the transit system is also increasing, from $640,000 a year to roughly $700,000. Transit also receives $137,000 annually from Stratford and $60,000 from Cornwall. Fares and the subsidies account for 80 per cent of the costs.

Tweel also points out the city will act on another recommendation from the Dillon report - the buses will be more visible on University Avenue.

Beginning Jan. 30, buses will move up and down the main artery in the capital every 15 minutes.

"We believe it will increase our ridership in terms of the new routes. I think (every 15 minutes) is a remarkable step in the right direction,'' Tweel said.

The transit system will also be unveiling a new marketing plan to address complaints that the schedule was too hard to read.

Tweel added that all buses in the system are now fully accessible.

Tweel hopes revamping the system will also ease the strain on parking in the downtown core.

"If we don't perfect and enhance and work on making our transit system better, what are the options? Building a new (parking) garage where you have to spend $10 million of the taxpayers' money?''

Meanwhile, the city has signed a contract with the towns of Stratford and Cornwall to provide regional service through Sept. 30, 2015 with two options of renewal for periods of 10 years each.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

 

Geographic location: Stratford, Cornwall, Charlottetown Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Lise
    December 13, 2011 - 09:36

    I live on Belvedere Avenue; a main route you would think. But given the current schedule I cannot get downtown (to the Polyclinic), to the Charlottetown Mall or to the QEH (and home again) unless I go early morning. This is because of the two hour break in service caused by the one hour lunch break where several buses don't move. Trius says they can't afford to put in drivers for this one hour period to keep the buses running. They need a lot more than just a .25 cent increase and a more readable schedule to help their service. They need to seriously look at where the buses run, where the people are, and actually make them meet up! It's ridiculous that you can not catch a transfer bus because the Trius system has not synchronized them. Trius has a lot of work to do and throwing them a little bit of money to keep doing the same thing is a mistake.

  • Ch'Town Lady
    December 13, 2011 - 09:08

    So in Halifax they pay 2.75$ fare but the also have a much more elaborate transit system. If we are now to pay more, I sure hope that means we will have an improved transit system. As of right now I wouldn't even pay the 2$ to hop on that thing.

  • RG
    December 13, 2011 - 07:32

    You would think the fares would be quite a bit lower considering the distance travelled. I can get pretty much anywhere the bus goes in about a 10-20 minute span. Now if you go to some bigger city like Calgary, you can get somewhere it would take you over an hour to drive, yet you're almost paying the same price. (2.75 for a ticket there) They also have a lot more buses on the roads than here, so their cost to operate would be much higher as well. For the short distance I'm going, it's just not worth it to wait for a bus and ride for 15 minutes and pay that price. Maybe if the price was based on the area serviced and was maybe something like $1, I may take it once in a while. I wasn't riding the bus for $2, and I won't be riding it for 2.25 either.

  • Transit user
    December 13, 2011 - 05:56

    The service isn't worth the fare hike! Vastly improve the service FIRST and then charge us MORE money for it!

  • cost benefit
    December 13, 2011 - 05:26

    ridership: 300,000. Cost of operation: $1.8 million. Cost per ride: $6. Exactly as predicted in 2000 and 2005. So what's the surprise here? (Cost of a taxi? $6)

    • wayne kennedy
      December 20, 2011 - 02:42

      With no buses Capitalism would probably result in higher taxis fares once they have MONOPOLY

  • C
    December 13, 2011 - 00:50

    How about an iPhone application for the bus schedule's? Works really well for other cities.

    • Head Shaker
      December 14, 2011 - 17:50

      There is one. It is called Chtown Bus.

    • C
      December 14, 2011 - 21:19

      Thank you, whoever you may be.

  • Mary Dicks
    December 13, 2011 - 00:49

    With the rate increase perhaps the city may consider having the buses on a bit later in the evenings and on Sunday....This time of year the buses should be occomdating the consumers and businesses especially the downtown core....where parking is almost impossible....The city has to keep in mind that with the stores open later a lot of employees rely on the buses for their only means of transportation .....

  • wayne kennedy
    December 12, 2011 - 22:29

    It is twelve and1/2%. Inflation adjustment for old age will in comparison be some 2 and 1/2% coming year. Why would transit shut down for "lunch breaks" at rush hour in this city [mostly routes run between shopping centers] and to provide service to areas where most people have personal cars.In order to use it to get anywhere they circle endlessly though residential areas rarely picking up anyone. Drivers are nice people but the schedules are difficult to read and use.

    • wayne kennedy
      December 13, 2011 - 00:05

      P.S. have to point out the most usual thing for a "consulting" firm is to suggest increasing prices. Those who hire them think it a wonderful idea. Justifies a very nice fee.